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3. Maintenance of Laboratory
For whom is this guideline intended?
Equipment It is intended to guide all laboratory personnel in
hospitals where Microbiological services are available. It
Introduction is also intended to guide the administrators who have to
decide on finance management in planning.
Equipment maintenance is one important aspect Although it is targeted for the institutions under the
of quality assurance in the laboratory. Accuracy of a Ministry of Health, the guideline is encouraged to be
report depends partly on error free machines. Laboratory used in any private health facility where Microbiological
equipments are also costly items. Daily routine services are to be provided.
procedures in maintenance can help to increase the life
span of the equipment thereby preventing unnecessary
burdens on the state finances. Faulty equipment can also
be unsafe for the users. Use of this guideline could help
in overcoming most of the problems encountered in ƒ To provide evidence based recommendations to
equipment maintenance in the Microbiology laboratories. laboratory personnel to choose the best course
of management of the laboratory equipment.
ƒ To provide recommendations to the
Why a Clinical Practice Guideline? administration to help in the improvement of
In implementing laboratory quality assurance a quality in service delivery.
breakdown prevention maintenance programme for the
equipment has to be drawn up and practised. One of the
activities in this program would be to prepare Standard List of Contributors
Operating Procedures Manual (SOPM) for equipment
1. Dr. Sagarika Samarasinghe
maintenance within each laboratory as applicable to its
own work expectations. The SOPM should include
2. Dr. Ranjith Perera
clearly written instructions for operation of the
equipment. At the moment as there are no national
3. Dr. Geehthani Galagoda
guidelines to meet this demand it is expected that this
guideline would help in initiating such programmes in
4. Dr. Gaya Colombage
Microbiology laboratories in the country.
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Quick Reference guide Maintenance of Laboratory

3.1 Maintenance of Microscope 56 Equipment
3.2 Maintenance of Centrifuge 60 This guideline deals with some equipment
3.3 Maintenance of Fume hood 62 commonly used in the Microbiology laboratories.
3.4 Maintenance of the Biological Safety Cabinet 63 However these principles could be applied in the
maintenance of other equipment in the laboratory as well.
3.5 Maintenance of the Refrigerator-Freezer 65
The maintenance programme to be developed in the
3.6 Maintenance of Autoclaves 67 laboratory should include the following components.

1. A preventive maintenance programme for all

Contents equipment. This involves periodic performance
checks as recommended by the manufacturer.
Topic Topic Page 2. Maintenance of a register of all equipment
No No indicating serial numbers, hospital identification
3.1 Maintenance of Microscope 56 numbers and specific locations in the laboratory.
3. A mechanism has to be developed to get all new
3.1.1 Daily procedure in maintaining a Microscope 58
equipment checked by the Bio-Medical
3.1.2 Periodic procedure in maintaining a 59 Engineering Division to ensure safety of the
3.2 Maintenance of Centrifuge 60
4. Records of all break downs.
3.2.1 Daily procedure in maintaining a centrifuge 60
5. Mechanism for validation of equipment.
3.3 Maintenance of Fume hood 62 6. Mechanism for calibration of equipment.
3.4 Maintenance of the Biological Safety Cabinet 63
3.5 Maintenance of the Refrigerator-Freezer 65
3.6 Maintenance of Autoclaves 67
3.7 References 69
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3.1 Maintenance of Microscope • Use very little pressure to prevent

Special care should be paid to each part of the removal of the coatings of the lenses.
microscope. Maintenance should be done according to a
time schedule. B. Cleaning Solutions (X)
• Use water-based solutions for normal
• If you have to use organic solvents,
use them in very small amounts and
only if absolutely necessary to remove
oil from the lens.
• Since microscope manufacturers do
not agree on solvents to be used, each
company’s recommendations should
be consulted.
• One recommended solvent is 1, 1, 1-
Figure 1. trichloroethane; it is good for
removing immersion oil and mounting
media and will not soften the lens
3.1.1 Daily procedure in maintaining a sealers and cements.
• Xylene, any alcohols, acetone, or any
Microscope (X) other ketones should never be used as
A. Optical surfaces cleaning fluids.
• Use a fine hairbrush to remove dust
from all optical surfaces. C. Lamp (X)
• Remove oil and finger marks
immediately from the lenses with
several thickness of lens tissue. To remove oil received from fingers;
• Do not use any type of tissue other • Clean the lamp after it has been installed
than lens tissue otherwise you may into the lamp holder, with lens tissue
scratch the lens. moistened in 70% isopropyl or ethyl
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• Make sure that the lamp is cool and 3.1.2 Periodic procedure in maintaining a
the switch is in the off position when microscope
replacing or removing the lamp.
vii. By whom & when to do?
D. Stage (X) i. Factory-trained and authorized individual
• Clean the stage with a small amount should do this.
of disinfectant (70% isopropyl or ii. Should be done at least once a year.
ethyl alcohol) when it becomes
iii. If microscopes are used continuously,
maintenance should be performed twice a
E. Condenser (X) iv. Schedule a complete general cleaning and
• Using petroleum jelly or light grease, readjustment.
clean and lubricate the sub-stage .
condenser slide as needed. viii. Record all preventive maintenance and repair
data as shown below.
F. Dust Cover (X)

ƒ Cover the microscope when not in use. • Date of maintenance

ƒ In extremely humid climates (a relative • Microscope identification number
humidity of more than 50%) good ventilation • Names of company and representative
is necessary to prevent fungal growth on the • Type of maintenance and /or repairs done
optical elements. • Part replaced
• Recommendations for next evaluation
• Estimated cost if you have such information
• This information should be cumulative so that a
review for each piece of equipment can be scanned
quickly for continuing problems, justification,
information for replacement requests, etc.
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3.2 Maintenance of Centrifuge • Perform this function every six months or

1. Following a breakage or spill and at least monthly;
• Disinfect the centrifuge bowl, buckets, trunnions, and
rotor with 10% household bleach or phenolic
• Following disinfection, rinse the parts with warm
water and perform a final rinse with distilled water.
• Thoroughly dry the parts with a clean absorbent
towel to prevent corrosion.
Figure 2.
2. At least at quarterly intervals;
• Brush the inside of the cups with mild warm
Daily procedure in maintaining a soapy water and use fine steel wool to remove
centrifuge deposits; the cups should then be rinsed in
distilled water and thoroughly dried.
i. Inspection before each run
• Visually check the carrier cups, trunnions
and rotor for corrosion and cracks.
3. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for
• If anything is found to be defective, preventive maintenance (lubrication).
replace it immediately or remove the
equipment from service.
4. Semiannually, check brushes and replace if worn to
• Check for the presence and insertion of ¼ in. (1 in. = 2.54 cm) of the spring. Also
the proper cup cushions before each run. semiannually, check the autotransformer brush and
replace if worn to ¼ in. of the spring.
ii. Quarterly and periodic checks
• At least quarterly checks need to be done 5 Record all information relating to preventive
• Check the speed at all regularly used maintenance and repair .This information should be
speeds with a stroboscopic light to verify cumulative so that a review for each piece of
the accuracy of a built-in tachometer or equipment can be scanned quickly for continuing
speed settings. problems, justification information for
• Remember to record the results. replacement requests etc.
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3.3 Maintenance of Fume hood • Lubricate the sash guides as needed.

3.4 Maintenance of the Biological

Safety Cabinet

Figure 3.

Checking should be done at least yearly,

Air Velocity
• Keep the sash fully open and the cabinet
Figure 4.
• Check the air velocity with a thermoanemo
meter (minimum acceptable face velocity, Routine
100 ft (1ft = 30.48cm)/min. ƒ After each use, disinfect the work area. Since UV
radiation has very limited penetrating power, do
Smoke containment not depend on UV irradiation to decontaminate the
work surface. Clean UV lamps (in the off position)
• A smoke containment test should be with 70% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, at least once a
performed with the cabinet empty to verify week.
proper directional face velocity.
Periodic checks
ƒ Have class 1 biological safety cabinets certified at
least annually.
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ƒ They should also be certified after installation but • Replace the filters as needed.
before use and after they have been relocated or • On installation, have a class 11 biological
moved. safety cabinet certified to meet standard 49 of
ƒ Certification should include the following and will be the National Sanitation foundation.
documented by the trained company representative.
(Contracted to handle the biological safety cabinet
inspection). 3.5 Maintenance of the Refrigerator-
A. Air Velocity
• Measurements of the air velocity will be
taken at the midpoint height approximately
1 inch behind the front opening.
Measurement should be made at
approximately every 6 inch.
• The average face velocity should be at least
75 linear ft / min.
B. Smoke containment
• With the cabinet containing the routine work
items, such as Bunsen burner, test tube rack,
bacteriological loop and holder, etc., a smoke Figure 5.
containment test should be performed to
Daily records
determine the proper directional velocity.
C. ƒ On a daily basis, monitor and record the
temperature of the refrigerator. The thermometer
• Record the date of re-certification, the names of
should be placed into a liquid to permit stable
the individual and company re-certifying the
temperature recording, or thermocouples may be
cabinet, and any recommendations for future
service. Any maintenance performed should
ƒ On a daily basis, monitor and record the
also be documented in writing.
temperature of the freezer. The thermometer should
be placed in anti-freeze to permit stable
temperature recording.
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Periodic checks
3.6 Maintenance of Autoclaves
ƒ Periodically when the door is opened check whether
the fan is functioning.
ƒ Monthly, check the door gasket for deterioration,
cracks and proper seal. Seal problems are often seen
when ice begins to build up in a freezer or the
temperature is not holding. Periodically, petroleum
jelly can be rubbed onto the door gasket to lubricate
the material and to help maintain flexibility for a
tight seal when the door is shut.
ƒ Semiannually, clean the condenser tubing and air
grill with a vacuum cleaner.
Figure 6.
ƒ Semiannually, check to ensure that the drain tubes
are kept open.
ƒ Annually, wash the interior with a warm solution of
baking soda and water. Rinse with clean water, and
1. Remove the outlet screen and clean with detergent
dry. Also, wash the door gasket and water collection
and a brush under running water.
tray with a mild soap and water. If the gasket
2. Clean the chamber using a cloth. Do not use abrasive
accumulates a black mold, scrub with 50%
cleansers or steel wool, as these will scratch the
household bleach solution and a small brush. Rinse
surface and increase corrosion.
with clean water and dry.
3. Clean the door or lid gaskets with a cloth and check
for defects. Replace defective gaskets.
4. Clean the shelves in the autoclave or the basket or
cart that holds packs (including the wheels of the
cart) with detergent and a cloth.
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Check the manufacturer's instructions for References:
maintenance of the exhaust line. If the instructions are
unavailable using the following instructions, flush the 1. National committee for Clinical
exhaust line or chamber drain to keep it free of material laboratory standards. 1996. Clinical
that may interfere with air and steam leaving the laboratory manuals, 3rd ed. approved
chamber. guideline 3P2-3A.Villanova, Pa
2. Neimester, R 1992. Introduction, p. 7.1.1-
1. Remove the outlet screen. 7.1.11. in H.D. ISENBERG (ed.),Clinical
2. Pour 1 liter of detergent and hot water solution down Microbiology procedures hand book .
the drain with a funnel. American Society for Microbiolgy,
3. Pour 1 liter of hot water down the drain to rinse out Washinton, D.C.
the detergent solution.
4. Replace the screen.

NOTE: These guidelines apply to most, but not

all, autoclaves. Refer to the manufacture’s manual for
specific instructions.